Rev. Proc. 2020-29 temporarily allows taxpayers to submit certain requests for letter rulings and determinations to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) electronically. Electronic submissions will be permitted until the revenue procedure is superseded or modified, but taxpayers may still make paper submissions.

Electronic submissions are permitted for requests for letter rulings, closing agreements, determination letters, and information letters from the Associate Chief Counsel Offices and for determination letters from the Large Business and International (LB&I) Division. However, procedures for submissions to the IRS Small Business/Self Employed Division, Wage and Investment Division, or Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division are unchanged.

Continue Reading You Can Now Submit Your Letter Rulings and Determinations to the IRS Electronically

We greatly appreciate our readers over the past year and are pleased to share that we were recently recognized as the #1 Firm for tax thought leadership in the 2020 JD Supra Readers’ Choice Awards, which acknowledge top authors and firms for their thought leadership in key topics during all of last year. In addition, partner and blog editor Kevin Spencer was recognized as a “Top Author” for tax.

Through our various blogs, thought leadership pieces and tax-focused events, we are dedicated to maintaining our position as a leading firm for tax work and keeping clients abreast of significant and relevant topics in the industry.

In a series of frequently asked questions (FAQs) addressing the interaction of recently enacted net operating loss (NOL) carryback provisions and section 965, the IRS stated that taxpayers may not receive a refund of any section 965 tax payment unless and until the payment exceeds the “entire income tax liability for section 965.” The IRS further stated that such amount “includes all amounts to be paid in installments under section 965(h) in subsequent years.” This position – that taxpayers are not entitled to a refund of an overpayment of the section 965 tax liability unless and until the overpayment amount exceeds the full eight years of installment payments – is consistent with the IRS’s previously published position in PMTA 2018-016 (and as discussed in our prior analyses, here and here).

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In Taylor Lohmeyer Law Firm P.L.L.C. v. United States, No. 19-50506, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that a Texas-based estate and tax-planning law firm (Firm) could not invoke the attorney-client privilege against an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) summons seeking the identity of its clients.

According to an IRS revenue agent’s declaration submitted in support of the summons, the Firm became a target for IRS investigation following an audit of one of its clients, an individual who had used the Firm’s services to establish and operate various foreign accounts and entities, through which the individual had funneled millions of dollars of unreported income. The IRS issued a John Doe summons to the Firm seeking, amongst other things, the identities of other clients for whom it had established foreign accounts or entities.

Continue Reading Fifth Circuit Rules that Law Firm Clients’ Identities Are Not Privileged

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of April 20 – April 24, 2020. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here.

April 21, 2020: The US Tax Court proposed amendments to its Rules of Practice and Procedure. The proposed amendment to Rule 24 incorporates simplified procedures for the withdrawal and substitution of counsel, and clarifies limitations on counsel’s representation of a party to more closely follow the American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Written comments to the proposed amendments must be received by May 31, 2020.

April 21, 2020: The Treasury Department and the IRS released Revenue Procedure 2020-27 to provide a waiver of the time requirements of IRC § 911(d)(1). The waiver applies to any individual who reasonably expected to meet the eligibility requirements of IRS § 911(d)(1) during 2019 or 2020, but failed to do so because the individual departed a foreign country on or after a specified date due to COVID-19.

April 21, 2020: The Treasury Department and the IRS released Revenue Procedure 2020-20 to address the “substantial presence test” under IRC § 7701(b)(3) and the impact of travel and related disruptions resulting from COVID-19. COVID-19 may have affected the travel plans of foreign travelers who intended to leave the US. The Revenue Procedure provides that when applying the substantial presence test, an alien individual may exclude certain days of physical presence in the United States, including if the individual qualifies for the Medical Condition Exception described in Revenue Procedure 2020-20.

April 21, 2020: The IRS published frequently asked questions (FAQs) titled “Information for nonresident aliens and foreign businesses impacted by COVID-19 travel disruptions.” The FAQs address the impact of COVID-19 travel disruptions on nonresident alien individuals who perform services or other activities in the US and foreign corporations who employ individuals or engage individuals as agents to perform services or other activities in the US may be considered engaged in a US trade or business. The FAQs provides that the affected person may choose an uninterrupted period of up to 60 calendar days, beginning on or after February 1, 2020 and on or before April 1, 2020, during which services or other activities conducted in the US will not be taken into account in determining whether the nonresident alien or foreign corporation is engaged in a US trade or business. However, it must be true that such activities were performed by one or more individuals temporarily present in the US and would not have been performed in the US but for COVID-19 travel disruptions.

April 23, 2020: The Treasury Department and the IRS released proposed regulations addressing how to determine if an exempt organization has more than one unrelated trade or business, and, if so, how to calculate the organization’s unrelated business taxable income.

April 23, 2020: The IRS published FAQs on carrybacks of net operating losses (NOLs) for taxpayers who have had IRC § 965 inclusions.

April 24, 2020: The IRS released its weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandums and Chief Counsel Advice).

Special thanks to Emily Mussio in our Chicago office for this week’s roundup.

Recently, in Revenue Ruling 2020-8, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that it was suspending Revenue Ruling 71-533, which had addressed the interaction of two Internal Revenue Code (IRC) provisions regarding limitations periods on refund claims, pending reconsideration of the holding of the earlier Revenue Ruling.

Under IRC section 6511(d)(2)(A), a taxpayer generally must make a refund claim relating to an overpayment attributable to a net operating loss (NOL) carryback no later than three years after the taxable year in which the NOL was generated. Under IRC section 6511(d)(3)(A), a taxpayer generally must make a refund claim relating to an overpayment attributable to a foreign tax credit carryback no later than ten years after the taxable year in which the foreign taxes were paid.

Continue Reading New Revenue Ruling 2020-8 Helps Taxpayers Seek COVID-19 Tax Refund Claims

The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit’s recent opinion in Standing Akimbo, LLC v. United States, No. 19-1049 (10th Cir. April 7, 2020), reminds us of the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) ability to obtain the information it needs to examine taxpayers’ returns using its powerful summons tool.

In May 2017, the IRS began auditing Standing Akimbo, LLC (Standing Akimbo), a Colorado limited liability company operating as a medical-marijuana dispensary. The audit focused on whether Standing Akimbo improperly claimed business deductions that were prohibited under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) section 280E. Generally, IRC section 280E provides that no deduction or credit is allowed for any amount paid or incurred in the carrying of a business if such business trafficks in controlled substances that are prohibited by Federal law. While legal under Colorado law, marijuana is still classified as a controlled substance under Federal law, and specifically the Controlled Substances Act. As a pass-through entity, any adjustments to Standing Akimbo’s returns would affect its owners’ (Taxpayers) individual tax returns.

Continue Reading IRS Flexes Its Administrative Summons Power in Recent Tax Case

Presented below is our summary of significant Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance and relevant tax matters for the week of April 13 – April 17, 2020. Additionally, for continuing updates on the tax impact of COVID-19, please visit our resource page here.

April 16, 2020: The CARES Act made several modifications to net operating losses (NOLs). Specifically, NOLs incurred in 2018, 2019 and 2020 can be carried back to offset taxable income earned during the five-year period prior to the year in which the NOL was incurred. Accordingly, to allow taxpayers to meet the deadlines to submit such refunds, the IRS issued temporary procedures to allow taxpayers to fax certain Forms 1139 and 1045 due to COVID-19.

Only claims allowed under sections 2303 and 2305 of the CARES Act that are made on Form 1139 or Form 1045 are eligible refund claims that can be faxed.

April 16, 2020: The IRS published FAQs to address specific issues related to the deferral of deposit and payment of employment taxes due to the CARES Act. The deferral applies to deposits and payments of the employer’s share of Social Security tax that would otherwise be required to be made during the period beginning on March 27, 2020, and ending December 31, 2020. Employers that received a Paycheck Protection Program loan may not defer the deposit and payment of the employer’s share of Social Security tax that is otherwise due after the employer receives a decision from the lender that the loan was forgiven.

April 17, 2020: The IRS issued Revenue Procedure 2020-25, which provides guidance allowing a taxpayer to change its depreciation under IRC § 168 for qualified improvement property placed in service by the taxpayer after December 31, 2017, in its taxable year ending in 2018, 2019 or 2020.

April 17, 2020: The IRS released FAQs regarding the Economic Impact Payments (EIPs). The FAQs address eligibility, requesting EIPs, calculating EIPs and receiving EIPs.   

April 17, 2020: The IRS released its weekly list of written determinations (e.g., Private Letter Rulings, Technical Advice Memorandums and Chief Counsel Advice).

Special thanks to Emily Mussio in our Chicago office for this week’s roundup.

On April 14, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued informal guidance in the form of frequently asked questions (the “FAQs”), urging taxpayers to strengthen their transfer pricing documentation required under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) section 6662(e) and Treasury Regulations § 1.6662-6. IRC section 6662 provides several types of accuracy-related penalties on underpayments of taxes. Pursuant to IRC section 6662(e)(1)(B)(ii), a net adjustment penalty could apply to an intercompany transaction when the net IRC section 482 transfer pricing adjustment exceeds the applicable threshold amount. Taxpayers, however, may avoid a net adjustment penalty by maintaining transfer pricing documentation in accordance with IRC section 6662(e)(3)(B) and Treasury Regulation § 1.6662-6. The IRS indicates that without robust documentation, intercompany transactions may be subject to extensive examination process.

The FAQs provide guidelines for preparing high-quality documentation that could increase the chance of early deselection of transfer pricing issues, thereby substantially facilitating the examination process. First, industry and company analysis sections of the report should be clear and provide context for related party transactions. For example, the report should explain economic downturns or other unforeseen special business circumstances that affect the transfer pricing results. The analysis should also address any differences in risks or functions between the tested party and the comparable companies. Second, functional analysis narratives should be robust and link facts to analysis, and risk analysis should be consistent with intercompany agreements. Finally, detailed analysis should be provided to support (i) the best method selection (as well as the rejection of specified methods, if applicable); (ii) the profit-level-indicator conclusion; (iii) the satisfaction of the comparability criteria enumerated in the regulations and (iv) proposed adjustments to the application of a specified method, if selected. Taxpayers are encouraged to conduct a “self-assessment” of the potential indicators of transfer pricing non-compliance to strengthen their transfer pricing documentation reports.

The FAQs also identify some of the most helpful features in a transfer pricing report.  These features include (i) a full explanation of the data used in the transfer pricing analysis; (ii) descriptions of the general business risks of the transaction and detailed descriptions of how these risks are allocated among the controlled participants to the transaction based on the intercompany policies/agreements and (iii) detailed explanations of how profits are allocated among all parties, especially where a party is allocated profits that are disproportionate to its relative contributions. High-quality transfer pricing documentation may also include useful features such as reports of a functional and risk analysis for each transaction, an analysis of special business circumstances that may have affected profitability, descriptions of challenges of the analysis and any user-friendly features such as a summary of information.

These guidelines are consistent with  recent IRS efforts to encourage taxpayers to improve the quality of transfer pricing documentation, and suggest that the IRS may apply a higher standard in future examination when reviewing the documentation.

Practice Point: The IRS is signaling that there are some persistent deficiencies in taxpayers’ contemporaneous transfer pricing documentation. It may be a good idea to review your documentation practices in the hope of avoiding a protracted IRS audit. If you have the same basic report year after year (other than changing the numbers), we highly suggest a critical analysis of your documentation. It is easy to get into the “same as last year” rut, but when the IRS comes knocking, you will be happy you did not fall into that bad habit!

On April 8, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released a statement telling taxpayers that guidance would be forthcoming on refund claims related to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or the CARES Act. Consistent with that promise, on April 13, 2020, the IRS issued guidance describing temporary procedures permitting the submission via fax of Form 1139, Corporation Application for Tentative Refund, and Form 1045, Application for Tentative Refund. For our prior discussion of CARES Act refund guidance issued by the IRS, see here.

Continue Reading More Guidance on CARES Act Refund Claims